• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Young artists to perform showcase at Woodford Theatre

A troupe of 24 teens known as the Woodford Theatre Young Artists will perform a showcase of musicals, including their award-winning "Into the Woods Jr." performance from the Junior Theatre Festival (JTF) in Atlanta last January. For the four high school seniors who are Woodford Theatre Young Artists, the showcase performances on Saturday and Sunday will be their final shows at Woodford Theatre before beginning the next chapters in their lives. "It's sort of bittersweet," said Jacob Miller, a senior at Woodford County High School. "Because it's going to be sad to leave all these people we've worked and trained with. But we have worked and trained so hard - so now we're ready to move on and go do other things . It's exciting." "(And) no matter what happens," added Ashley Lawrence, also a WCHS senior, "we will always come back to support our fellow young artists because as we grow up and graduate . that's four more supporters you're going to have in the front row clapping for you." While at JTF, the Woodford Theatre Young Artists (WTYA) won the Excellence in Acting award and other recognitions. Addy Bell was Outstanding Female Performer; Chap Hollin and Ashley Lawrence were JTF All-Stars; Addy, Jacob Miller and Jackson Becker were invited to audition for a choreography DVD; and Charles Adams, Annie Harris and Woodford Theatre Education Director Vanessa Becker Weig were chosen to participate in the Broadway Jr. Slam. "Going to JTF and then just being with these guys and gals has really allowed me to see that there's a lot more that I can do," said Charles, a junior at Woodford County High School. At JTF, Woodford Theatre Young Artists were surrounded by other musical theater groups from across the country, which Becker Weig described as a great experience for these young performers. "Seeing all of these really fantastic groups gave them something to learn from and aspire (to)," she said. Because of what they've learned from their teachers, directors, and choreographers at Woodford Theatre, Lexie McCourt said she was ready for the rigors of JTF. Others had similar feelings about Atlanta, including Woodford County Middle School drama sponsor Alyssa Sturgill, WTYA musical director. "It helps me . do things a little bit differently . when we do shows (at WCMS) - just seeing all of the different ways people produce show or ideas that they have," said Sturgill. WTYA choreographer Patrick Garr, a University of Kentucky theatre student, went to JTF as a high school junior so he understands its value. "You get some great feedback from some awesome professionals in the industry who watch and adjudicate the performances," he said. Participating in what's called "the world's largest celebration of kids performing musical theater" was affirming for Woodford Theatre Young Artists. "The Atlanta experience made me want to do this more," said Chap Hollin, a freshman at Woodford County High School. He said having his performances judged by professionals only made him want to work that much harder to get better at his craft. The upcoming WTYA showcase performances are Saturday night, April 9, at 7:30 and Sunday afternoon, April 10, at 2 in the Woodford Theatre. Tickets - $8 for students and $12 for adults - are available in advance at www.woodfordtheatre.com or at the door before each showcase performance.

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